Do you, boo boo.

If anything has absolutely worn me out in 2015, it’s the onslaught of self-righteous Mommy/Christian/People/Persons/Humans/I-Am-Doing-Life-Better-Than-You Blogs.  A gazillion times out of ten, I write about how awful I am.  I write about how it’s hard to live with me and how bad I feel for my husband, I write about my anxiety and how I can’t people, or I write about how fat I feel and how much I know I need to get back on my treadmill.  Nothing in my writing aims to make you feel less than me because I do something a certain way, because lets face it, it’s likely that I do it wrong.  I don’t adult very well.

So, I’m not gonna shame you for wearing leggings as pants (or yoga pants) and showing your cute butt if you’re cool with it and it makes you happy.  I certainly will never get between you and whatever belief you have about alcohol and social drinking (or drinking in general) because your personal choices are not my business.  If you post selfies with mad cleavage, bikini shots, butt shots, whatever, good for you.  I’m not going to ask you not to do whatever you want to do on YOUR social media account to shield my husband’s pure eyes (puhlease!).  I’m not a Mommy so I’m NEVER going to say a word about parenting because I have no idea, and if I ever am, I’m not going to write anything shaming the childless for not understanding how difficult it is to never have any time.  I’m sure as shit not gonna write anything encouraging you to do your husbands laundry, because that man has two legs and two arms and that blog straight up killed me.

I can’t live in this “15 verses to pray for your husband when he makes you angry” Pinterest culture of marriage and relationships and interactions with people.  We are all different, and you guys, life is HARD.  Life is mean.  Life is good and beautiful and painfully unfair.  Because I drink a glass of wine on Friday nights and you don’t, it doesn’t matter.  Because you don’t wear things that show your butt because your husband doesn’t like it and I do, it doesn’t matter.  Just. Do. You.  Do what makes you happy, do what is right for you, and let that be that.  The implication of shame and underlying tone of superiority is killing us.

And you know what?  It’s so specifically between women.  We let these menial issues pit us against one another instead of lifting each other up.  As if we do not have enough negativity pressing against us, so we must be negative to one another?  Do you feel so insecure in your own choices and ideas that you have to belittle someone to validate yourself?  I don’t understand any of it.  Please know that I am not belittling you if you identify with anything I’ve mentioned, I am only stating that every single person is different and it is okay if someone isn’t living their life like your are living yours.  It doesn’t make them bad, less Christian, or less anything.  It makes them human.

I like cats.  I love talking about my husband because he’s funny, and not because I think I’m better than you because I have one.  I’m nobody’s Mother, but it doesn’t mean that I have all the time in the world and that I’m so free and life is so easy.  I eat too much and exercise too little.  I recently changed my anxiety medicine so I have more good days than bad, but I still have awful days.  Sometimes, I don’t like my job.  Sometimes, I don’t like myself.  Sometimes, I just want to go home and put on pajamas and hide away.

Happy 2016, y’all.  Be bigger, be braver, be better.  And ALWAYS be you.


put down the signs, cross over the lines and love like you did.

This started as a Facebook status and I quickly realized that it was going to be far too long and more blog-like than status-like.  I’ve struggled all week with wanting to write something on the subject of what’s happening in Johnson County Schools and the words have never come to me.  There have been moments of anger where I didn’t care if I offended anyone, but I deleted those.  There have been moments of pride where I didn’t care if I offended anyone, but I deleted those, too.  Honestly, today, I’m just very sad.  I’m hurt.  I’m broken for how this opportunity was twisted and wasted.  I’m worried for my sister and countless friends who teach in the public school system. I’m thinking about Tom Salyer and how he should’ve never been the one in this position considering the law is as old as I am.

I’m also incredibly mindful of Jesus Christ.

By the standards of a lot of folks reading this, I’m not a good Christian anymore.  When I married Chad, I requested my name be removed from the church I’d attended since birth because we are considered in adultery (by their understanding of scripture) as Chad was married once before me.  I guess that might be the root of my disillusionment with the church, I’m really not sure.  I am still very much a Christian.  I was baptized at 17 in a creek at the end of February.  I believe in and have felt God, and my soul is saved by Jesus Christ.  I have maybe been to church 5 times this year.  Maybe.  Almost every time I go, I hurt.  I feel left out.  I feel like an outsider. Not because I married a man who had previously been married, I am complete peace with that.  But, because I’m liberal, because I believe everyone is equal and deserves all the same rights protected by the government, because I believe in climate change and science, because I’m a *whispers* Democrat.  I was in a church earlier this year where the Pastor said from the pulpit that if you vote Democrat, you’ve probably already ‘backslidden’ and the congregation cheered.  I got up and walked out.  It destroyed me.  It hurt.  My salvation being in question because of how I vote is not funny to me and never will be.  So, maybe I’m not the person to be writing this at all.  Maybe I’m not as good as some of y’all.

So, when I see this uproar about Bible verses in public school plays and the rampant outcry to blame a certain family, to blame a certain belief, to ostracize those without belief, it cuts me.  Because I am the outsider now.  I am looking in, wondering where I belong, if anywhere.  I’ve always understood that the ultimate goal as Christians is supposed to be to bring others to Christ.  That one single solitary soul being lost to Hell should be enough to keep a Christian up at night.  That’s always how I have understood Jesus, His unending love and mercy, and His way.  In light of that notion, instead of hitting the picket line, should we have not hit our knees on the behalf of the lost?  Maybe I’m wrong and confused about how things work, and I’m open to that.  I’m open to the idea that I interpret things wrong.  But, the vitriol I have seen from Christians this week has been some of the most hurtful, painful stuff I have ever read.  Implying that those in the school system who are abiding by the law of the land are denying God and thus will be denied in Heaven, implying that those who aren’t picketing are ‘pathetic’ Christians.  It’s out of hand.  It’s embarrassing.  It is not Christ-like.

Federally funded public schools are not the place where one religion can be favored over another.  To put it simply: Were this situation different and your child or grandchild was asked by a Muslim teacher to read a verse from the Koran in a school endorsed play, you would be livid.  You are protected from that by the 1st Amendment just as the folks who don’t want their child taught Christianity in public school should be protected as well.  Period.  The first amendment also protects your right to teach your children as you please at home, just as my Mother taught me.  The concept is not difficult.  You are not being persecuted, and the last time I checked, should you believe in an all powerful, omnipotent Great Creator, you’d be hard pressed to take Him ‘out’ of anything anyway.  Tom Salyer is protecting his employees, and he’s doing the best he can.  He’s a human being with a heart, with a family, and he is not the enemy here.  Just a man doing his job.  A job he needs to pay his bills, to feed his family, and none of that seems to mean anything to those so enraged and calling for his job.  Senseless.

In a world outside of these hills, there are billions of people who don’t believe like you. They walk and they talk and they breathe just like you.  They have heartbeats and souls, they are happy, they are sad, they are broken, they are kind, they are alive.  They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, all orientations, all backgrounds.  Nothing that happened this week in front of the Johnson County Board of Education brought anyone to see Jesus Christ as He really is.  The honk of you love Jesus narrative is beaten and broken and empty.  Service, kindness, and unrelenting love are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ that people crave and so desperately need.

Yes, you read that right. Unrelenting love.

Where To Begin


I want to do this writing thing, but I don’t know where to start.  Do I start writing short stories?  Do I keep blogging about the quips of daily life?  Do I make an outline?  Do I show you, the readers, everything?  Sincerely, I have no idea.

Honestly, I’ve never really been good at anything.  I’m not particularly athletic, I was an embarrassing cheerleader once upon a time, my attitude and general disposition are not increasingly enthusiastic, and I’m not creative in a hands on sense.  I am literally never going to make a wreath for my front door or use a hot glue gun without burning myself up in some tragic, over the top accident.  I don’t really have an ‘eye’ for anything other than brownies and how to break down a 2-3 zone.  If you’re looking for someone to fold your t-shirts perfectly, organize your linen closet, make a good pot of chili and a loaf of banana bread, I guess I would do in a pinch, but I’m not talented at anything really.

But, I can write.  I have voice.  I know it and I am pretty confident in it, but I am not that great.  For example, I don’t ever really think I could write a book because I have exactly zero work ethic.  So many ventures seem like such an awesome idea to me and then they get a little difficult or I get bored and I’m checking out immediately.  I can’t imagine this will be any different, and I know if I tried to write a book it wouldn’t be any different, but here we are, same old blog again.  I want to do this, and I want to do that, but really I only want to write it if it’s perfect on the first run and I don’t have to proof it and make it better, well, pretty much ever.

Unfortunately, that’s not how any of this works.  That’s not how writing works.  Nothing is perfect the first time, the second time, or the third.  Another thing is, it’s really scary.  The other night, I wrote something and shared it that actually had something to do with current events, something that I knew would be at odds with a lot of people.  When you write something in a public forum, you put yourself out there and you have to be ready for that.  But, honestly, a lot of things I write privately push me into looking myself in the mirror.  Sometimes I’m not really sure how or what I feel about a situation until I write about it.  Writing is powerful like that.

I’m not foolish and I don’t think I can change the world with my writing.  I don’t know that anything I ever write will be published outside of this blog.  I have to stop being scared if something is ‘good enough’ to post and just bore you all with everything.  You know, all 10 of you that read this (and that’s aiming incredibly high!).  But, if I get even single chuckle, provoke some thought, heck, make anyone feel anything, then I guess that’s the point.

So, again, where in the world do I even start?

This probably will not be well received.

Tragedy typically provokes two types of responses; compassion and fear.  I’ve been exceptionally careful about how and what I have posted on social media in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France.  As a human being with an unbelievable capacity for empathy, my heart aches.  Hundreds of people innocently went out on a Friday night with no fear or inclination that they would never make it home.  These people were parents, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, coworkers, friends, and significant others with heartbeats, souls, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, favorite coffee cups, and so much more.  I have never been to Paris, and what happened yesterday did not change my every day life.  But, I care deeply about the senseless loss of human life.  I ache for those who are left with the void of losing a loved one.  I am profoundly sorry.

That being said, I am not scared.

I am not scared of radicals.  I am not scared of an entire religion based on the heinous acts of less than 1%.  I will not be scared into believing that 1.6 billion people want my death because of the images I am fed.  I know who and what the threat is and that it is real.  Very, very real.  I acknowledge the danger of an unchallenged, unchecked ISIS because I am neither foolish nor naive.  I will not use the loss of 129 souls for political expediency before their families can even begin to mourn.  Because it’s not about my beliefs, it’s not about how I feel about immigration or gun control or war.  I understand these are real conversations and conversations that must be had, but at this moment, these are the conversations of the removed.  These are the conversations of those of us who are safe in our homes tonight, sleeping next to someone we love, texting someone we haven’t lost, thinking about what we will do with our day tomorrow when we wake.

Because we will wake.  129 innocent, beautiful lives will not.

Today Is Okay.

Today we close on our first home.

For the last 6+ months, Chad, myself, our 55 pound dog Trevor, and our 3 ill tempered cats (Sophie, Sadie, and Zoey) have lived in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 1 living space, too tiny apartment.  It was the apartment I moved into when Chad and I started dating and I needed to spread my wings and leave my Mama.  I loved that apartment.  I hate the carpet in that apartment, but I loved that apartment and it has certainly served it’s purpose and then some.  But, like with everything else in life, it’s time for change.

We always joke that living so close together for the last half a year has been hard, but it really hasn’t.  The worst fight we’ve had was when Chad first moved in and it was, you guessed it, over something stupid.  Nobody really yells, I sometimes slam a door because I’m approximately 12, and most of the time my biggest annoyance is stepping in pee because someone is too lazy to turn the light on to aim properly at 3am.  The fact is, the best part of my day is coming home to Chad or him coming home to me.  That’s not to say we don’t get on each other’s nerves because we certainly do, but I kinda like the guy.  He’s my best friend.

I’m writing today because I can’t help but think about how much life changes in 365 days.  Today, we’ve been married for six months (actually, on the 18th), and we close on our first home.  This time one year ago, Chad rushed to the hospital as my grandmother passed away.  He and I didn’t live together, we weren’t engaged, we certainly weren’t married, and we weren’t even thinking about buying a house.  I didn’t cry that day.  Or the next day.  I didn’t cry until the morning of the funeral, actually.  I had a really hard time being sad because she was suffering so much in those last months.  I missed her, don’t get me wrong, but her labored breathing and tired, exhausted eyes were hard to look at and I knew she was very ready.

I know she would be extremely happy and excited for me today.  I know when we finally moved in she would worry about me being by myself and ask me when Chad would be home, though I’ve always been extremely independent and capable.  I was her littlest girl, the little wavy, brown haired baby that she would watch intently as I ran down the path in the yard and made it to our back door.  Even to this very day one year ago, I was that little girl to her.  That fact used to bug me, but I’m okay with it now.

Today is okay.  Today is happy. Today, I sign “Alena Hughes” to eleventy billion papers and become a home owner.  Today, I miss Rusha Dae and wish I could show her our house, even if only in pictures.

Today is an anniversary and a new beginning.

Today is okay.

Sometimes, I feel incredibly broken.

Okay, most times, I feel incredibly broken.  As my almost 15 year struggle with depression has evolved into sometimes crippling (and always present) anxiety, it’s like I can’t get ahead of anything or get ahead of myself.  Before I got married and when I was still single, I ached for someone in my life that could understand me and I have that now.  My marriage is one of the best parts of my life, honestly.  But, as with most things in life, when one part comes together, something else falls apart.

I can’t hardly function in social situations anymore.  Well, sometimes I’m okay.  Getting me out of the house is a chore.  I sit and obsess about how much people don’t want me around them, and I convince myself that people only want to hang out because they feel sorry for me (or feel sorry for Chad) and want him there and know that I’m part of the deal.  Just while typing that, my heart started beating faster and I felt my palms start to sweat.  I need longer away from group situations than I ever used to because I have to decompress and talk myself down from innocent comments that I’ve taken the wrong way or feeling left out.  I’m not saying any of this to get sympathy from you if you’re reading this, I’m saying it because I can’t control it.  I know the issues are paranoia and anxiety and sometimes straight up worthlessness.  There is no magical switch.

Texting people first to start a conversation feels impossible and I rarely do it.  A phone call is out of the question.  In the last year, I have completely fallen off with people that I care about because I feel like a nuisance to them.  When people don’t answer me or they seem ‘short’ I’m convinced they’re annoyed with me for trying to speak to them at all.  I sometimes beg Chad to not make me to go into social situations where I am not 100% comfortable because the fear I feel is crippling and painful.  Even when I am comfortable, I struggle.  It hasn’t reached a point that I am avoiding work or calling off to stay home, but I can see how it would easily get there and it’s really only because I don’t have the time off to take for it.  I answer a phone all day and that constant interaction often leaves me feeling upset, drained, and so anxious that I can feel my insides shake.

The more I re-read this, the more I don’t want to post it because it scares me to be this honest about what’s been going on with me.  Because I am typically the clown, the jokester, the loud one, the funny one, these are the parts that most people don’t see and thus, they rarely believe it when people like me come forward.  But, I’m going to post it.  Because maybe there’s someone else reading this that’s been quietly struggling, too.  I hope that anyone reading this that thinks I have been odd or stand offish will realize whatever I’ve done (or not done) has not been a personal affront to you.  It’s just me right now.  It’s just me.

What’s so frustrating is that I have so many wonderful, exciting reasons to be SO happy.  And I am really happy.  I have so many positive people in my life, I’m so excited about our new house, I love being married, I have good friends — the list goes on and on.  So, I feel like this struggle means I am ungrateful, but I am the complete opposite of that and worrying about someone thinking I’m ungrateful for my life makes the cycle start all over again.  Funny how that works, I guess.  Not every day is bad, and not every day is a struggle.  But, more times than I really care to admit — functioning on a normal level IS a struggle.  

I’m still trying.

I realize I’ve blown social media up in the last few days asking for prayers and support and sometimes donations for the flood victims in Johnson County.  But, today, I feel really compelled to share with you the story of a family that I am acquainted with and ask you to open your hearts to them during this time.

I went to high school with Tracy Thompson but we didn’t know each other well.  It wasn’t until the last couple of years of interacting on social media that I became more acquainted with her and her family through pictures of her adventures with them or with her husband, Dustin.  Tracy was a nurse at Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center during several of the sometimes week long stays that my Granny Rusha endured during the last few years of her life.  My Granny loved her, and we loved her, because she was always so incredibly sweet and helpful.  I know that she would say that she was just ‘doing her job’ but when a family member is sick, and you’re physically and emotionally exhausted, having someone who seems to genuinely care goes a long way in terms of comfort. Tracy’s husband, Dustin, is a Kentucky State Trooper and while I don’t know him, I think the fact they both have chosen to give their lives to service based jobs tells you what kind of people they truly are.

Tracy’s Dad, Terry Dean, is a Flat Gap fixture.  Stapleton’s Garage has existed on 172 since I can remember and we have always given them our business.  We knew if we took our vehicles to Stapleton’s that the job would be done right and we’d be treated fair.  During the summer, I can’t tell you how many times I have driven home to my Mom’s from work and they’d be closing up shop, and then on my way back through town, Terry Dean and his brother would be out mowing off their own lawns and every house around them (I believe the whole Stapleton clan lives very close together), and I always thought — do they ever sleep?  During the school year, Terry Dean drives a bus for the county.  What I’m telling you is — these people are some of the hardest working, honest, service oriented people I have ever seen in my life, and they need your help.

On Monday, July 13, an unimaginable flash flood came through Flat Gap, Ky and destroyed Tracy’s house, washed Terry and his wife’s away completely, and moved Tracy’s sister’s home several feet off the foundation so it was at an angle with the road.  Terry and Bev’s house was picked up, broken up, and literally carried away, all that’s left is the foundation.

If you can, today, please donate whatever you can spare to the rebuilding fund for the Thompson/Stapleton family.  They lost their homes, their cars, their clothes, family pets, and every personal belonging they ever had.

Please click in the link the subject line or click HERE. Thank you.

Tracy and Dustin’s Home. I believe water got as high as 6 feet or better. Everything was destroyed.
Tracy’s sister’s home
Around the middle is where Terry Dean and Bev’s home use to be.